For a really special start to 2019, consider travelling to the magical winter lands of snow and ice in Scandinavia. This area of the world is a popular place for visitors across the Christmas and New Year period, and the dramatic landscapes, guaranteed wintery weather and cosy customs will help you celebrate in true Scandi style.
There’s been much talk recently about the Scandinavian concept of hygge, and this time of year is when it really comes into its own. That warm, sleepy feeling that Christmas brings can last all the way into the New Year with the cultivation of a hyggespace in your hotel or guesthouse. There is no feeling more satisfying than snuggling under a fleecy blanket by the fireside as the snow falls outside your window, and this is made even better when you’ve spent the day outside indulging in winter-time activities.
The perfect accompaniment to a night in feeling warm and toasty is a traditional smorgasbord of Scandi culinary treats. Kransekage, or ‘wreath cake’ is a common New Year’s Eve dish consisting of rings of cake piled up on top of one another and covered with marzipan. It’s often made into a real spectacle, with the crowning glory a bottle of Aquavit in the middle. For those who don’t have such a sweet tooth, there are plenty of delicious pickles, pâtés and cured meats on offer at this time of the year, too.
So, whether you’re returning to your comfortable room after a night out on the tiles, or you choose to stay in and have a quiet evening, there are plenty of indoor delights to keep you more than satisfied.
Look to the Skies
One star performance that you won’t want to miss out on during your trip is that of the aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights. Visible from several places in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, as well as countries further south like Finland, the Lights’ dancing colours in the sky are one way to welcome in the New Year that you’ll never forget. To be in with the best chance of seeing the aurora borealis, it’s best to book in with an experienced holiday company. There are all sorts of options up for grabs now, including trekking across the snow with a sled and team of huskies, staying the night in a tailor-made igloo or even watching the display from your hot tub. Although visibility is never guaranteed, the excitement of heading out in the dark to hunt the elusive Lights cannot be beaten.
Besides, there’s plenty more happening in the sky besides the aurora during winter in Scandinavia: polar nights make for some truly unique and eerie skyscapes, with the sun appearing for mere minutes at midday and creating some spectacular Arctic sunsets, unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Prepare to be awed by the colours created across such a breathtaking and majestic landscape.
When travelling in Denmark, don’t be alarmed if, on New Year’s Day morning, the locals seem to start a broken crockery war with their neighbours! Strange as this may look to a visitor, it’s an established tradition thought to bring good tidings for the year ahead. The New Year is often a time when people wish friends, family, neighbours and colleagues good luck for the months to come, and every country has its own particular way of doing this. In many parts of Scandinavia, people eat smoked and pickled fish to encourage a prosperous and bountiful year.
Back in the UK, the first person over the threshold after the clock strikes 12 is said to influence the type of year you’ll have; most people would welcome a tall, dark and handsome man whilst rebuffing a blonde – or even worse, redheaded – woman. In Spain, it’s said that if you can fit 12 grapes into your mouth as the clock strikes midnight, you’ll have good luck all year. Whilst travelling, you could even create your own New Year’s tradition that will be personal to you and your companions’ experience.
The beautiful and ever-surprising lands of Scandinavia hold some of the most magical and enchanting winter sights on this planet. In countries where winter can often mean no sunlight, freezing temperatures and harsh weather, they certainly know how to celebrate the New Year with flair. You owe it to yourself to experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!